The Moussem of Tan-Tan

the Sahara bringing together more than thirty tribes from southern Morocco and other nomadic peoples of northwest Africa. Originally these were spontaneous and regular meetings of these peoples for a week around the month of May. Part of the agricultural and herding calendar of the nomads, these gatherings were an opportunity to meet up, to buy, sell and exchange foodstuffs and other products, to organize camel- and horse-breeding competitions, to celebrate weddings and to consult herbalists. The Moussem also consisted of a range of celebrations such as musical performances, popular chanting, poetry contests and other Hassanie oral traditions, and games. 


These gatherings took the form of a Moussem (a type of annual fair that is economic, cultural and social) from 1963 when the first Moussem of Tan-Tan was organized to promote local traditions and to make the event a place for exchange, meeting and celebration. The Moussem is said to have been initially associated with Mohamed Laghdaf, who resisted the Franco-Spanish occupation. He died in 1960 and his tomb lies near the town. Between 1979 and 2004 it was not possible to hold the Moussem because of security problems in the region. The new version of the Moussem took place in September, and this will now be its normal date. Today, the nomadic populations, who are particularly concerned to protect their way of life, their know-how and traditions, hope that the Moussem of Tan-Tan will assist them to achieve this.

The economic and technical upheavals which have affected the region have profoundly altered the lifestyle of the nomadic Bedouin communities, mainly by causing them to settle. Urbanization and rural exodus have contributed to these changes by causing the loss of many aspects of the traditional culture of these populations, such as crafts and poetry. In addition, the lack of resources for safeguarding the traditions and the lack of structures for organizing the Moussem threatens the survival of this event.